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Roving Periscope: After tit-for-tat, Pakistan dreads a fiercer Iranian counter-attack

Roving Periscope: After tit-for-tat, Pakistan dreads a fiercer Iranian counter-attack

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Virendra Pandit 

 

New Delhi: For centuries, the world has known it: Iran neither forgets nor forgives. Even a cautious America, having burnt its fingers several times, handles Iran with utmost care.

So, after a knee-jerk jingoistic reaction against Iran, after it showered missiles on Tuesday into Pakistani territory, Islamabad dreads the next, and fiercer, Tehran move.

Two children were initially reported killed and three girls injured in the Iranian attack in Baluchistan bases of the Jaish-e-Adl terror group on Tuesday. A day later, nine Iranians were killed in Pakistani airstrikes in the Siestan-Baluchistan territory of Iran.

Iran is unlikely to forget all this. Nor would Pakistan.

In the Iraq-Iran war, started by Baghdad, around 500,000 people were killed between September 1980 and August 1988. Despite bearing the larger share of the casualties, excluding thousands of civilians killed in the concurrent Anfal campaign that targeted Iraqi Kurdistan, Tehran refused to end the eight-year-long conflict until Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein requested peace.

Pakistan’s Thursday attack was the first missile attack on Iranian soil since the end of the grueling Iran-Iraq War in 1988, the media said.

Islamabad now dreads a repeat of that war. Despite repeated Iranian pleas, the all-powerful Pakistani Army continued to interfere across the Siestan-Baluchistan territory until Tuesday when Tehran attacked the Sunni terror bases inside the restive Baluchistan which is fighting its own long separatist battle against Islamabad.

Iran and Pakistan share a nearly 900-km-long lawless rather unclear border that enables terrorists to move freely between nations.

The attack and counter-attack raise the threat of violence spilling over to other parts of the Middle East, which is already reeling under the ongoing Israel-Gaza war.

Interestingly, after the Shia Iranian attack inside Baluchistan, Afghanistan’s Sunni Taliban regime once again mocked a Sunni Pakistan, reminding it of an infidel India’s air strikes against terror groups in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) a few years ago. To rub more salt into Islamabad’s wounds, the Kabul-based Afghan Taliban also reminded Pakistan of how 93,000 Pakistani soldiers had surrendered to India in 1971, and Bangladesh was born.

Nine people were killed in retaliatory air strikes by Pakistan on a border region in Iran’s southeast on Thursday, stoking regional tensions.

The Pakistani Army on Thursday shared operational details of the airstrikes against what it called hideouts inside Iran used by “terrorists” of two leading “Baluch terrorist groups”.

In a statement, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said it carried out “precision air strikes in Iran using killer drones, rockets, loitering munitions, and stand-off weapons, according to local media reports.

The army said that it struck the hideouts of the Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA) and the Baluchistan Liberation Front (BLF) in an intelligence-based operation, code-named ‘Marg Bar Sarmachar’.

The army claimed that these hideouts were used by Baluch terrorists responsible for recent attacks in Pakistan. It said these hideouts were being used by “notorious terrorists” including Dosta alias Chairman, Bajjar alias Soghat, Sahil alias Shafaq, Asghar alias Basham, and Wazir alias Wazi, amongst others, according to Geo News.

The ISPR said the armed forces’ resolve to ensure the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Pakistan is respected and safeguarded against any misadventure, remains unwavering.

“Pakistan Armed Forces remain in a perpetual state of readiness to ensure the safety of Pakistani citizens against acts of terrorism,” the statement added. “We reaffirm our determination to defeat all enemies of Pakistan with the support of the people of Pakistan.”

The military’s media wing also stressed the need for dialogue and cooperation in resolving bilateral issues between Pakistan and Iran.

“Going forward, dialogue and cooperation are deemed prudent in resolving bilateral issues between the two neighboring brotherly countries,” it said.

In Iran, three women and four children were reportedly among those killed in the Pakistani strikes, Iran’s IRNA news agency said, quoting the deputy provincial governor of Iran’s Sistan-Baluchistan province.

The development came two days after Iran carried out strikes against “terrorist” targets inside Pakistan which left at least two children dead. Islamabad expelled the Iranian envoy to the country and recalled its ambassador from Tehran.

 

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